Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church - Bronx, N.Y.
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Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church

4750 White Plains Road
The Bronx, N.Y. 10470

The Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church evolved out of a number of early churches. In May 1887 the Rev. Charles S. Wing, Pastor of the First Methodist Church of Mount Vernon, formed the Washingtonville Methodist Mission at the request of members of his congregation and their friends who lived in that rural community. Early services were held in rented premises located at the corner of Becker Street and Fulton Avenue (now East 241st Street and Richardson Avenue). The Sunday School population grew from 56 to 100 pupils during this time under the direction of Superintendent William H. Baird. The average attendance each Sunday was 80 pupils. In November 1887, the cornerstone was laid for an old wooden church building that was donated by the First Methodist Church of Mount Vernon. However, the building was later dismantled and moved in sections by horse-drawn wagon to a site at White Plains Road and Penfield Street which was donated by Judge George J. Penfield. The old building was renovated and re-designed to be consistent with the architecture of the day.

In May 1888 the new building was dedicated and the society was renamed the Washingtonville Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. E. R. Foley was appointed the first minister of this church which in March 1890 was renamed the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church of Mount Vernon.

In 1891 Kenneth Crawford donated a lot located on St. Ouen Street; at the same the congregation acquired the adjoining property for $450. On this property a parsonage was erected, with furnishings provided by ladies auxiliary at a cost of $460. The present parsonage was built in 1911 under the direction of Rev. John H. Laird.

Fire destroyed one of two towers of the church when it was struck by lightning in 1927. As the insurance coverage was inadequate to undertake the necessary repairs to the church, a mortgage was obtained from the New York City Society. This mortgage was paid off in 1940s and, in celebration of the achievement, the Church held a “mortgage burning ceremony”. Several renovations were done to the church building over the years. In 1928 memorial windows were installed; the seating was rearranged in 1936 to provide a centre aisle for weddings and other services; and in 1942 the altar was rearranged.

The church building was damaged by a second fire on December 23, 1989. As a result, the stained glass windows had to be replaced and the organ refurbished. The Church was rededicated on June 23, 1991 with Bishop C. Dale White giving the sermon.

Loans were obtained from United Methodist Development Fund foundation and from the United Methodist Parish Development Fund to purchase a new Parsonage for the church which is located at 9 Sheridan Ave. Mt. Vernon, NY 10552.

On March 25, 2011, the Board of Directors of the United Methodist City Society voted to return the deed and title to the congregation of Wakefield Grace. In return, the congregation accepted an Ecclesiastical Mortgage of $375,000 which only needs to be paid off if the congregation ceases to exist as a United Methodist Church.

  J.H. & C.S. Odell organ, Op. 261(1888) in Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church - Bronx, N.Y. (credit: Dave Schmauch)
J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co.
New York City – Opus 261 (1888); moved (c.1922)
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 8 stops, 8 ranks

The organ in Wakefield-Grace Church was originally built in 1888 for St. John's Chapel, a mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rochester, N.Y., by J.H. & C.S. Odell of New York City. The Agreement (Nov. 11, 1888) stated that this was a "Specification No. 6" and cost $1,350. In October 1922, St. John's Chapel merged with St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Rochester. At an unknown time, the Odell organ was moved to Wakefield Grace Church. The organ originally had seven stops. Following a fire on December 23, 1989, the organ was refurbished and altered: the 8' Dulciana on the Great was replaced with a 2' Principal, and an 8' Oboe was added to the Swell (using the unneeded Blower's Signal knob).
Great Organ (Manual I) – 58 notes
  Open Diapason
  Principal (orig. 8' Dulciana)


Swell Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes, enclosed
  Viola (TC)
  Stopped Diapason (TC)
  Oboe [later addition]
  Unison Bass


Pedal Organ – 30 notes
    Swell to Pedal    
    Great to Pedal    
    Swell to Great    
    Tremolo   Blower's Signal *
    Balanced Swell Pedal  
* Used for Swell 8' Oboe
J.H. & C.S. Odell organ, Op. 261(1888) in Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church - Bronx, N.Y. (credit: Dave Schmauch)   J.H. & C.S. Odell organ, Op. 261(1888) in Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church - Bronx, N.Y. (credit: Dave Schmauch)   J.H. & C.S. Odell organ, Op. 261(1888) in Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church - Bronx, N.Y. (credit: Dave Schmauch)
     "A Brief History of the Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church," pub. by the congregation (ca. 2012).
     Agreement (Nov. 11, 1888) between J.H. & C.S. Odell and St. John's Chapel, Rochester, N.Y., for Odell organ, Op. 261. Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rochester, N.Y. A Brief History of the First One Hundred Years of Rochester's Second Episcopal Parish. Rochester: The Foss-Soule Press. 1927. Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church website: http://www.wakefieldgraceumc.org/

     Henderson, Jim. Exterior (2012).
     Schmauch, Dave. Photos of J.H. & C.S. Odell organ, Op. 261 (1888).